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The science behind an orgasm

An Orgasm is defined as ‘an involuntary muscle contraction (or set thereof) that is accompanied by pleasure’

Sounds simple enough, but truth be told, the big O is so much more isn’t it?

Intrigued by a desire to know more about our bodies and the process they go through during an orgasm, and in an attempt to understand the differences between this experience for men and women, I’ve put together a mildly ‘scientific’ comparison below. Of course we could go into much more detail, but for the purposes of the comparison I’ve stuck with the main points.

Some amazing body facts & processes follow!

A Woman’s Orgasm 

For a woman, once sexually aroused her heart will begin to beat faster, breathing will quicken & various muscles throughout her body will begin to tighten. For some, breasts may enlarge somewhat, nipples stand to attention and her areolas may appear larger, flushed cheeks, neck and body may occur too – this is caused by increased blood flow.

The general majority (70 – 80%) of women require direct clitoral stimulation so take note here. The visible portion of her clitoris will begin to swell as secretions occur inside, as arousal increases so too does a process called engorgement. This engorgement is a flooding or rush of blood to her pelvic area, often accompanied by a pleasurably warm feeling.

At the same time, provided arousal is maintained and increases, the clitoris will then stop swelling and begin to retract under the clitoral hood, decreasing in length by approx 50% as it does this. This is a sign that her big O is imminent!

This is NOT the time to stop … the clitoris being the main driver for stimulation and ultimately an orgasm now needs continued stimulation. It is this retraction at the point of ‘almost’ that can cause so many women to come close but not actually peak. Frustrating much?

The orgasm itself begins with strong, muscle contractions in the pelvic area – including the vagina, the uterus and the anus. For some women, on some occasions, these contractions begin soon after the woman reports that the orgasm has started and continue at intervals of approx 0.8 seconds with initially increasing, and then reducing, intensity. In some instances, the series of regular contractions is followed by a few additional contractions or shudders at irregular intervals. In other cases, the woman reports having an orgasm, but no pelvic contractions are measured at all, so it really depends on the individual too. These contractions may last anywhere from 5 – 30 seconds, whilst skin flushing reaches its maximum. The brain sends pleasure signals to the woman’s brain and a euphoric state may take over.

Women can experience many or multiple orgasms without having to go into what is called a ‘refraction period’ (or recovery phase) & without losing arousal – a big difference between the sexes.


A Man’s Orgasm

For men, achieving an orgasm involves a series of steps engaging various organs, hormones, blood vessels and nerves – ultimately all leading to the end result being the ejaculation of semen (usually) through strong muscle contractions.

The testicles play an important role in a man’s orgasm – not only do they produce millions of sperm a day, they are also responsible for the production of testosterone. Testosterone being the all-important hormone that controls, along with other psychological factors, a man’s sexual desire, or libido. This libido or sexual desire is his kick start of the process leading to a man’s orgasm.

Let’s look at the steps that lead to ejaculation – & ultimately his big O now:

  1. Arousal: During this stage, his penis becomes erect as blood races in from expanded arteries at up to 50 times its usual speed, filling spongy tissue along the way. The veins in his penis that usually drain blood out will squeeze shut in an attempt to keep more blood in the penis, producing a firm erection. His scrotum will pull towards his body & muscle tension will usually increase.
  2. Plateau: His body prepares in this almost ‘trance-like’ state. His muscles will increase tension even more & a clear liquid meant to change the pH balance (to improve the survival chances of sperm) of the urethra may flow now, at the same time he may experience some involuntary body movements – particularly in the pelvic area.
  3. Orgasm: generally lasting anywhere from a few seconds to 2 minutes (!), a man’s orgasm has a further 2 phases – emission & ejaculation. At emission stage he reaches a ‘point of no return’ so to  speak, where ejaculation is inevitable & semen is deposited near the top of the urethra ready for ejaculation. Ejaculation occurs in a series of rapid-fire contractions of the penile muscles – the nerves causing the contractions then send messages of pleasure to his brain…
  4. Refraction: This is the recovery phase really, during which the penis loses its erection (almost 50% immediately after ejaculation), muscle tension fades and he may feel drowsy or relaxed. Sound familiar? Stop giving him a hard time for falling asleep – most men must undergo this refractory or ‘rest’ period during which time they may find it difficult (or impossible even) to achieve another erection. This refraction period can last anywhere from half an hour to days – depending on the individual.


Now you know!

Any interesting points, tips or facts to add? Drop us a line at info@deeperlove.co.za or just comment on the post.

Till next time! x


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